City appeals court decision to stop proposed referendum on RCSD

by WHAM Friday, August 9th 2019

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – The City of Rochester has filed an appeal to overturn a judge’s decision shutting down a proposed referendum about placing the Rochester City School District under state control.

The 28-page brief was filed Friday with the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division 4th Department. Judge Scott Odorisi had ruled against the City of Rochester’s proposed referendum, which would have asked city residents whether they would be in favor of dissolving the school board for five years, helping pave the way for a state takeover.

The referendum was originally slated to be held in November. RCSD had taken legal action against Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren over the proposal.

In the appeal, attorney Timothy Curtin argues on behalf of the city that changes to the city charter would fall under the authority of the city, not under state authority. Therefore the arguments used by Odorisi were invalid and “plainly erroneous.”

The argument also states that New York state education law does not require the city to pay commissioners; that is a matter laid out in the city charter. Therefore, the decision should not be made by the state.

The filing also strongly rebuked the rebuttal of a letter sent to city residents by Mayor Lovely Warren that sought to have residents show up to vote on the referendum in November. The city argued that Odorisi “could not articulate the manner in which [those who received the letter] had been caused any harm.” The letter, according to the city, was written and distributed to “educate”, “inform”, “advocate” and “promote” an issue, which is allowed by law.

One excerpt from the appeal disputes Odorisi’s position this way:

“From the letter’s phrasing, the author’s position is evident.” What phrasing evidences the author’s position? We never find out—the Court again fails to cite to any language in the letter. What position does the Court find the author to have taken? Again—no answer. No citations. No analysis.”

“Sometimes, of course, facts speak for themselves,” the lawsuit goes on to state.

The lawsuit requests that the permanent injunction on the referendum be lifted.

City Appeal On RCSD Referendum by Seth Palmer on Scribd

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Rochester City School District officials said they are “confident in the merits of our case.”

This morning, the City of Rochester submitted their brief to the Appellate Division containing their legal arguments as to why Judge Odorisi’s decision on the referendum should be reversed.

We are evaluating the City’s arguments. We expect to receive notification from the Appellate Division regarding timelines and an argument schedule shortly.

The original link of this story is